Love You Better by Natalie Martin

I read a review about this book a couple of days ago and downloaded it right away as it sounded just like the style of books I like to read. I have read it within a matter of days as it really drew me in.

=== The story ===
The story begins at Effie and Oliver’s wedding day. It all looks like your usual wedding, everyone having a good time, a few family awkwardness but a big celebration nonetheless but then whilst Effie goes outside to get some air she sees Smith turn up. Smith was her boyfriend who broke her heart then disappeared to go travelling. Seeing him at her wedding unsettles her and she asks him to leave. But it appears that Smith keeps appearing, he gets a job at the same place of work as Effie and settles back into the friendships he had with her good friends. Whenever Effie plans to do something with her friends Smith is there too and stirs up feelings she thought she no longer had.

But Effie has it all hasn’t she now that she is married? She has a beautiful house thanks to her new husband coming from a very successful family and being a successful barrister himself. Her house is perfect, she’s bought lavish gifts for her birthday and taken to expensive restaurants with month-long waiting lists. Effie grew up without stability as her mother was a ‘free spirit’ and kept moving and refusing to adhere to conventional ways and so this lifestyle is perfect for Effie who has always wanted to feel grounded.

Oliver is loving and adoring and gives her everything but Effie begins to feel controlled by him. He doesn’t like her friends, he asks her to wear different clothes and he keeps pressuring her to start a family. Effie wonders why she feels so uncomfortable at the idea and finds herself questioning her relationship with both Oliver and Smith.

=== Characters ===
I really liked the way the characters were created in this novel. I could see that Effie was quite vulnerable and relied a lot upon her friends so when Oliver tried to stop her from seeing them I could relate to how she was feeling. She had a strength inside which saw her through the difficult times and I think she was really well created, you got to feel like you knew her and how she would react.

As for Oliver I wasn’t sure about him at first and then when he started to show his true colours I felt a bit more confused- was he really sorry when he apologised to her? Was he really taking a course to try to stop his anger issues? But this isn’t a criticism, it is another compliment to the book. Feeling confused and unsure whether to trust him was just what this book needed, it was most likely how Effie was feeling too and made me on edge reading wondering what he would do next. It made me really dislike him and be frustrated with him which I think is a sign of a clever author!

Smith was brilliant. He was really well described in both his appearance and his personality and he was really consistent. I could see why Effie would be wary of him given that he wasn’t as ‘perfect on paper’ as Oliver but how his consistency and kindness won over. I really thought that these main characters were well developed.

=== Opinion ===
I really liked this book. It wasn’t just about domestic violence and being controlled at all and I really liked that Effie didn’t just forgive Oliver straight away and take him back. I was almost groaning inside when he was begging forgiveness and I thought she would just relent but she didn’t, she stuck to her decision and that was really refreshing. This story tells you a lot about other issues too- that sometimes people make mistakes but they can be forgiven and it’s how they treat you in the present that you should focus on (in relation to both Smith and Effie’s mother). I liked that it emphasised the fact that you may look like you have it all but in reality there can be an awful lot missing such as friendships, happiness, freedom etc. It does make you think about what you take for granted.

I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more from this author. 🙂

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